middot generosity daily living time and generosity

time and generosity

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-clockI am increasingly aware that time is one of the most valuable things in my life. There is so much to do and so little time, as the saying goes. My chevruta and I have often discussed the role of time in the middah of generosity.

With time being the thing we often feel so short on, we have realized that our time may be one of the most generous things we can offer. This is not some convoluted way to get around monetary tzedakah….that is still important! Rather we’ve discovered that time is something that makes others feel loved and honored in a way that a check often doesn’t.

Think of your favorite gifts. If you’re like me, they are the gifts in which the giver put a great deal of time: the djembe my uncle made me, the translation/commentary on the Mishna my fiancée gathered many of our friends to contribute to, the kippot friends have hand-knit for me, etc. Think of hard times in your life. It is likely the people who took the time to be with you in those tough moments that stand out the most. Giving of our time may be the most meaningful gift because it is the very thing all of us feel we have little of. With that said, time may be the thing we “own” the least!

God is the true source of all provision, but time is unique. We work for many things but the time we have is only ours inasmuch as God has granted us time to live. We do not really own our time. In this way, the time we have is God’s greatest generosity towards us. Holding this perspective can help us all realize that we have an opportunity to pay forward every moment of time given to us out of God’s most generous heart. Time cannot be saved the way money can. Time will always be spent. However, you can “invest” time. When we invest our time the right way through giving of it generously we may find olam haba on the other side. I pray all of us can hold our loved ones a little longer, play with our children a little longer, prepare a gift a little longer, smile at a stranger a little longer, listen to our friends a little longer, and commune with God a little longer…it’s worth the time!

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